GATE CITY — A Scott County grand jury indicted more than 20 people this week, including three individuals who allegedly led law enforcement on high-speed pursuits on separate occasions.
Scott County Commonwealth's Attorney Marcus McClung said all three cases involved drivers who failed to pull over after a police officer or deputy initiated a traffic stop.
McClung said two of the pursuits — including one that reached speeds of 120 mph — took place in the Gate City area, while a third took place on a gravel road at speeds of 60 mph.
Those indicted on felony eluding charges include Joseph Nicholas Gupton, of Big Stone Gap; Terry Daniel McMurray, of Kingsport; and Wesley Ray Whitman, of Big Stone Gap.
McClung said Gupton was being pursued by a Gate City Police Department officer when he reached speeds of 120 mph on U.S. Route 23 north of Gate City. The GCPD terminated the chase once Gupton left the jurisdiction. Gupton was later arrested by the Norton Police Department. He was reportedly found to be driving with a suspended license.
Whitman's charges stem from an October 2013 pursuit involving the Scott County Sheriff's Office. That chase reportedly ended when officers deployed spike strips to disable Whitman's vehicle. Authorities said Whitman admitted to taking prescription drugs.
McMurray was charged after he allegedly fled from a Scott County deputy down an unpaved road at speeds over 60 mph. McMurray was allegedly under the influence at the time of the incident.
McClung said his office has seen an increased number of eluding cases in the recent past, including one that left former Virginia State Police trooper Jamie Lawson with permanent spinal injuries.
"These cases are happening way to frequently and they are putting the lives of many people in danger, including other motorists, the officers, and the person themselves, and the courts here are hammering this type of behavior," McClung said. "We hope that people see that we will not tolerate this, but unfortunately it seems to keep happening."
The grand jury, which met Monday, returned a total of 56 true bill indictments on 20 individuals.
McClung said a large number of the charges were related to breaking and entering and larceny cases. Many of those thefts, McClung said, are in some way drug related.
Among those indictment Monday were: